Following the speech by President Roosevelt, Cecil B. DeMille set out to produce a movie documenting the events that brought Dr. Wassell and the men of the USS Marblehead and USS Houston to the attention of the world. Mr. DeMille sent a telegram to the White House asking for permission to create a movie based upon the incident. The White House gave their approval. In addition, the Navy transferred Dr. Wassell to Hollywood to assist with the production. Dr. Wassell spent a year with Mr. DeMille recreating the events. Mr. DeMille also interviewed many of the sailors involved to recreate the events.

The film, The Story of Dr. Wassell, was released in New York, Los Angeles and Arkansas on June 6, 1944. It opened across the United States on July 4, 1944. The film met with mixed reviews. However, it was nominated for an Oscar for Best Special Effects.

All of the proceeds earned by Dr. Wassell were donated to a hospital for the deaf and blind in Little Rock, Arkansas.

Melvin Francis, one of the wounded sailors who was treated and evacuated by Dr. Wassell, played himself in the movie.

Gary Cooper played Dr. Wassell. Dennis O'Keefe played Benjamin Hopkins, the sailor who was left behind captured by the Japanese. At the end of the movie it was announced that Mr. Hopkins was alive, a fact which was not known while the film was in production. Also appearing was Yvonne De Carlo, an actress who would later appear in DeMille's movie "The Ten Commandments" and the television series "The Munsters".

An overview of the movie may be seen here at The Philip Ahn Admiration Society. Mr. Ahn also appeared in the movie, and was later known as Master Kan in the "Kung Fu" television series.

The movie is shown regularly on American Movie Classics (AMC) and Turner Classic Movies (TCM). It is also available for purchase.

The Story of Dr. Wassell (IMDB)

The Story of Dr. Wassell


Injured Ping reminisces in hospital Ping peers through microscope at Wassell's discovery
A smiling Ping Wassell comforts dying Ping

Paramount Pictures
1944
color
140 min.

Directed by Cecil B. DeMille

Produced by Cecil B. DeMille and Sidney Biddell

Written by Charles Bennett, James Hilton, Alan Le May, and Corydon M. Wassell

Cinematography by Victor Milner

Film Editing by Anne Bauchens

Music by Victor Young

Costume design by Natalie Visart

Art direction by Roland Anderson and Hans Dreier

Special effects by Farciot Edouart

Sound by Hugo Grenzbach

Cast

Gary Cooper Dr. Corydon Wassell
Laraine Day Madeline
Philip Ahn Ping
Signe Hasso Bettina
Dennis O'Keefe Benjamin "Hoppy" Hopkins
Carol Thurston Three Martini
Carl Esmond Lt. Dirk Van Daal
Stanley Ridges Cmdr. William B. Goggins
Elliott Reid William Anderson
Renny McEvoy Joe Leinwerber
Paul Kelly Murdock
James Millican Robert Elroy Whaley
Barbara Britton Ruth
Richard Loo Dr. Wei
Victor Varconi Captain Ryk
Lester Matthews Dr. Wayne
George Macready Dutch officer
Ludwig Donath Dr. Vranken
Irving Bacon Missionary
Joel Allen Robert Kraus
Melvin Francis Himself
Oliver Thorndike Alabam
Mike Killian Thomas Borghetti
Doodles Weaver Harold Hunter
Davidson Clark Dr. Holmes
Griff Barnett  
Hugh Beaumont  
Carlyle Blackwell American marine
Anthony Caruso Male nurse
Lane Chandler  
Isabel Cooper  
Yvonne de Carlo Native girl
Ann Doran Praying woman
Sarah Edwards Passenger
Julia Faye Anne (nurse)
Douglas Fowley  
Jody Gilbert Head nurse
Louis Jean Heydt Ensign
Si Jenks Arkansas mailman
Isabel La Mal  
Frank Lackteen  
Morton Lowry Lieutenant Bainbridge
Miles Mander  
Ottola Nesmith Temple guide's wife
Jack Norton Passenger
Richard Nugent Captain Carruthers
Frank Puglia Java temple guide
Ron Rondell Passenger
Minor Watson Rear admiral

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